I don't have a lot of flowery introductory BS this week, thanks to a sick kid. The third episode of season three, "Walk of Punishment," sets the table for some big doings and transpirings in the coming weeks. Daenerys is finally about to get her hands on an army, while others have lost their hands entirely.
Locations Highlighted in the Opening Titles (* = new): King's Landing, Harrenhal, Riverrun*, Winterfell, The Wall, Astapor
Ser(s) Not Appearing in This Episode: Joffrey, Margaery, Davos, Bran, Rickon, Hodor, Osha.
Our first, and last, glimpse of Lord Hoster Tully comes as he's loaded into a boat. Also our first look at Cateyn's brother Edmure (Tobias Menzies), not so handy with a bow, and her uncle Brynden -- "The Blackfish" (Clive Russell) -- who makes sure his brother gets a proper flaming send-off. More to the point, Robb (Richard Madden) is displeased with Edmure's tactics, which failed to lure the Mountain onto a killing ground. He knows Tywin Lannister is playing the long game and has the men to do so.
Speaking of the devil, the new Hand of the King holds his first meeting of the Small Council (including this season's first sightings of Varys and Grand Maester Pycelle). In addition to fretting about son Jaime's whereabouts, Tywin (Charles Dance) approves of Littlefinger's plan to wed Lysa Arryn, making him de facto Lord of the Vale. In his absence, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) is appointed Master of Coin, a summarily shitty position, if Cersei and Pycelle's smug expressions are any indication.
On the road, Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) gives what he probably feels is sound advice to Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) regarding her position. Namely, not to fight when their captors come to rape her. It's what passes for pleasant conversation from the Kingslayer, who nonetheless shows some concern for his former captor. More on that later.
Elsewhere on the road, Arya (Maisie Williams) and Gendry (Joe Dempsie) take their leave of Hot Pie, who's elected to stay and cook for at a roadside inn (the same one where the Hound killed Arya's friend, the butcher's boy), while they accompany Thoros and the Brotherhood as they take a captive Hound to Robb. He even bakes a wolf-shaped loaf of bread for Arya, who gives the dude what may be the only compliment he's had in three seasons when she praises his cooking.
The Blackfish tells Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) to stay strong, both for her own good and for Robb's, while Talisa (Oona Chaplin) tends to the Lannister kids Edmure captured. Sweet.
North of the Wall -- and really, why are we still seeing the Wall in the opening credits? There hasn't been a scene at Castle Black in months -- anyway, Mance (Ciarán Hinds), Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and company find enough horse heads at the Fist of the First Men to give Jack Wolz a heart attack. And all arranged in a pretty pattern as well. Mance sends Tormund "Giantsbane" (he must plant a mean beanstalk) ahead with Jon with a plan to scale the Wall and hit Castle Black from the rear. Meanwhile, the remnants of the Watch return to Craster's Keep. He offers somewhat less than the usual hospitality, prompting Sam (John Bradley) to seek out the source of some womanly screams. Oh hey, it's Gilly giving birth. To a boy. That's...unfortunate.